The woman was studiously minding her own business when she heard a ruckus outside her house. She cautiously cracked the front door open and peered out. Two small children were voraciously stuffing fistfulls of the exterior wall into their maws. The woman opened the door wider. “Can I help you?” She inquired. The two children ceased their feasting, icing and cookie crumbs and dirt smeared across their faces and their hands. The boy stepped in front of the little girl. The woman made note of their disheveled appearance. “Have you two been in these woods all night? Would you like to come in?” The little girl stared hungrily at the brightly lit interior of the house with big round eyes while the boy pushed her behind him as he backed away. “It’s nice and warm in here and I can make you some proper food,” the woman said. The boy’s hand went to his stomach and he stopped in his tracks to look at the girl. They had a short whispered consultation before slowly shuffling into the open doorway.
“So,” the woman began, “you have any names?” She asked as she secured the door closed with several locks and latches. The children watched her warily in silence. “Right,” she said. “No first names. That’s smart.” She made her way to the kitchen and told the children to make themselves at home. They timidly sat at the kitchen counter, their heads swiveling and eyes darting all around the room. “Looks much bigger on the inside, doesn’t it?” The woman set two plates of peanut butter & jelly sandwiches and two glasses of milk in front of the children who eyed them with suspicion.
“Are you a witch?” The little girl blurted out which earned her a sharp pinch from the boy. “Oww!” She yelped.
“I’m sorry for my sister, ma’am,” the boy said. “She doesn’t know any better.” The little girl jutted out her lower lip and rubbed at the sore spot on her arm.
“No. I’m not a witch,” the woman said with a chuckle. “If you thought I was, why did you come inside?”
The boy chewed on his lip. “Only, you live in the middle of the woods in a gingerbread house.”
The woman nodded. “That I do.”
“They say there’s a witch who lives in a gingerbread house in the middle of the woods. Who eats children.”
“Who says that?”
The boy gulped. “People.”
“Well, I don’t eat children. That’s disgusting. Besides, if you thought I would eat you, again, why would you come into my home?”
The boy blinked at her while the little girl suddenly produced a large hand cannon from somewhere in the folds of her dress. She rested it on the counter pointed directly at the woman’s chest and eyed the woman coldly.
“Nice place you got here,” the little girl said.
“It’s all right,” the woman responded coolly.
“My brother and I have been looking for a new place to live ever since our cow of a stepmother forced our father to kick us out of the house.”
“Hmm, imagine that,” the woman murmured.
“So I think we’ll stay here a while.”
“Is that so?” The boy got up from his seat and approached her with some rope in his hands.
“What do you think, sis? The witch in the woods will fetch a good bounty,” he said.
“She could. But I’m hungry for some real food and that oven looks pretty big,” the little girl said without taking her eyes off the woman.
When the boy got close enough, the woman quickly pulled him to the floor and snapped his neck before he could do anything but die with a look of surprise on his face. By the time the little girl had realized what was happening, the woman had already launched a knife at her, burying it cleanly into her forehead.
“Where do these damn kids keep coming from?” The woman asked the silent room.